Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating

CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 697

59 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2021

See all articles by Michal Bauer

Michal Bauer

Charles University in Prague - Institute of Economic Studies; CERGE-EI

Jana Cahlíková

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute)

Julie Chytilová

Charles University in Prague - Department of Economics

Gérard Roland

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Tomáš Želinský

Charles University in Prague

Multiple version iconThere are 5 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 1, 2021

Abstract

This paper provides experimental evidence showing that members of a majority group systematically shift punishment on innocent members of an ethnic minority. We develop a new incentivized task, the Punishing the Scapegoat Game, to measure how injustice affecting a member of one’s own group shapes punishment of an unrelated bystander (“a scapegoat”). We manipulate the ethnic identity of the scapegoats and study interactions between the majority group and the Roma minority in Slovakia. We find that when no harm is done, there is no evidence of discrimination against the ethnic minority. In contrast, when a member of one’s own group is harmed, the punishment “passed” on innocent individuals more than doubles when they are from the minority, as compared to when they are from the dominant group. These results illuminate how individualized tensions can be transformed into a group conflict, dragging minorities into conflicts in a way that is completely unrelated to their behavior.

Keywords: punishment, minority groups, inter-group conflict, discrimination, scapegoating, lab-in-field experiments

JEL Classification: C93, D74, D91, J15

Suggested Citation

Bauer, Michal and Cahlíková, Jana and Chytilová, Julie and Roland, Gérard and Želinský, Tomáš, Shifting Punishment on Minorities: Experimental Evidence of Scapegoating (August 1, 2021). CERGE-EI Working Paper Series No. 697, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3906623 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3906623

Michal Bauer (Contact Author)

Charles University in Prague - Institute of Economic Studies ( email )

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CERGE-EI ( email )

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Jana Cahlíková

Charles University in Prague - CERGE-EI (Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute) ( email )

P.O. Box 882
7 Politickych veznu
Prague 1, 111 21
Czech Republic

Julie Chytilová

Charles University in Prague - Department of Economics ( email )

Opletalova 26
Prague 1, 163 00
Czech Republic

HOME PAGE: http://ies.fsv.cuni.cz/index.php?module=kernel&action=user&id_user=130&lng=cs_CZ

Gérard Roland

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

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Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-642-4321 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Tomáš Želinský

Charles University in Prague ( email )

Celetná 13
Praha 1, 116 36
Czech Republic

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